When asked how practice went, Robinson laughed and then said bluntly, “We’ve got a long ways to go, obviously.”
Robinson was critical of his defense after watching his secondary continue to give up too many deep passes during team drills. He said the defense as a whole “didn’t perform very well,” adding that the unit “took a step back” Thursday.
During an early team drill, freshman wide receiver Jarius Wright blew past cornerback Greg Gatson to catch a long touchdown pass from quarterback Alex Mortensen. Sophomore Carlton Salters also beat a defender on a deep pass during practice.
“It was assignments. I don’t think it was so much young guys. Even the older guys have been getting beat,” Robinson said, trying to explain the number of deep passes given up by the secondary.
“I think it’s more assignment and technique. I’ll have to look at it. Again, we gave up too many deep balls, whatever it was.”
Arkansas wide receiver Rod Coleman left practice after only 20 minutes because of an undisclosed injury to his left hand. He walked off the field with his hand wrapped with an ice pack and headed to the locker room with an Arkansas athletic trainer. Coleman didn’t return to practice.
Meanwhile, free safety Rashaad Johnson, linebacker Ryan Powers and running back Dennis Johnson returned Thursday after missing all or much of Wednesday’s practice.
Freshman linebacker Tenarius Wright has gone by the nickname “Tank” since he played Pee Wee football. He said he earned the nickname because he could hit harder than other players.
“As I go along, some people say, ‘You got to show me you’re a tank,’” Wright said Thursday, a day before Arkansas’ first practice in full pads. “So (today) will be the day that I’ll have to show everybody my name is Tank.”
In less than a week, Wright has gone from being a newcomer to competing with redshirt freshman Jerry Franklin for the starting middle linebacker job. Franklin returned to practice Thursday after missing time Wednesday.
“Tenarius, Tank, is doing a great job of pushing (Franklin),” Robinson said. “And I think it creates a real positive situation for us at that position.”
Robinson didn’t get a chance to see defensive tackle Ernest Mitchell in action during the spring because of the senior’s offseason knee surgery.
So after a couple of days on the practice field this preseason, Robinson said he has been impressed by Mitchell’s size and strength.
“The first time I saw him in pads, I went, ‘Wow,’” Robinson said. “Because he can win the line of scrimmage and then some.
“He is a stout, strong young man. He does what he needs to do at that position for us.”
After three days of temperatures climbing close to the 100-degree mark, the Razorbacks got a bit of a break Thursday. Rain and overcast skies held the temperature in the 80s throughout the day.
“I expected it after that rain,” offensive lineman Mitch Petrus said. “I hadn’t gone outside so there’s a chance it might be really humid.
“But we came out here and it was really nice and we’re real thankful for it.”
Change of Class
Quarterback Alex Mortensen has been listed as a junior in Arkansas’ football media guide and on its roster, but that was changed Thursday.
Mortensen, who’s in his second stint at Arkansas, is now listed as a senior. He redshirted in 2004 and played for the Razorbacks in 2005 before transferring to Samford for one season. He returned to Arkansas last season.
Alex Abrams & Robbie Neiswanger • The Morning News